With 13 aerial victories, George Vaughn is America's fourth ranking WWI ace. Born in 1897, he grew up in Brooklyn and then enrolled at Princeton University. At the end of his sophomore year, he left school and enlisted as a private in the Aviation Section of the US Army Signal Corps. Upon completion of flying training in the Royal Flying Corps, he entered combat in May 1918 and flew an SE 5 with Number 84 Squadron, Royal Air Force. In August 1918, he was transferred to the US Air Service as a member of the 17th Aero Squadron, where he began flying the Sopwith "Camel."
He returned to Princeton after the war, acquired a degree in engineering, and worked in that field until 1927. In 1928, he founded Eastern Aeronautical Corporation. He also served as a member of the New York National Guard and rose to commander before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1937. In retirement he became Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Academy of Aeronautics, a firm he cofounded in 1932. The firm trained thousands of aviation technicians during World War II.
The painting shows Lieutenant Vaughn leading "B" flight in a Sopwith "Camel" F6034 'N' against Lieutenant Friedrich Noltenius' Fokker D VII on the morning of 22 September 1918 near Rumily, France. Both aircraft were badly shot up in a fierce dogfight, and each adversary thought he had shot the other down; both actually made safe returns. The Fokker's upper wing was damaged, but Lieutenant Vaughn's "Camel" had to be scrapped. A replica of that "Camel" on display at the Air Force Museum is outfitted with the original Aldis gunsight donated by Lieutenant Vaughn.